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Wichita Teachers Vote To Lengthen School Days, Shorten Year

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United Teachers of Wichita President Steve Wentz

Wichita Public School teachers and other certified staff and faculty have voted to shorten the upcoming academic year and lengthen school days by 30 minutes. The change is needed in order to trim about $3 million from the district’s budget.

The United Teachers of Wichita, a teachers union, reports that out of the 4,045 votes that were cast, nearly 69 percent voted to amend Wichita Public School’s calendar.

Students will now attend 158 days next year instead of 173. Teachers will work 175 days instead of 190.

A letter sent to employees by Wichita Public Schools Superintendent John Allison after the vote was announced stated that “it is anticipated that the [school] year will begin a week later, end a week earlier, and have extended breaks during Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays in addition to spring break week. This will also push back the dates for enrollment, new staff orientation and teacher report week.”

Wichita Public Schools had previously announced that due to rising operating costs and lack of new funding from the state of Kansas, the district would need to reduce spending by $22.7 million before next year.

Roughly $18 million in spending cuts have already been decided, which included combining the district’s two alternative metro schools.

Teachers and staff chose to amend the academic calendar over a different option of eliminating some elementary and middle school librarian positions and data leaders who interpret student test scores, as well as outsourcing the district's custodial staff.

Union President Steve Wentz says while it’s the lesser of two evils, it’s far from good news.

“Three weeks less of student contact is not what students in this district need. Governor Sam Brownback and every legislator who has supported his economic policy should be ashamed,” Wentz said.

He added that even with these changes, many staff members have been reassigned and “taken serious pay cuts through no fault of their own.”

It is not yet known how the changes to the calendar will affect day-to-day scheduling, after school programs or athletics.

The district’s school board will need to approve the changes to the academic calendar.